Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I am an ER nurse and this is the best description of this event that I
have ever heard. Please read, pay attention, and send it on!
Diane K. in A


I was aware that female heart attacks are different, but this is the
best description I've ever read.

Women and heart attacks (Myocardial infarction). Did you know that women rarely have the same dramatic symptoms that men have when experiencing heart attack ... you know, the sudden stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the chest & dropping to the floor that we see in the movies.

Here is the story of one woman's experience with a heart attack.

'I had a heart attack at about 10 :30 PM with NO prior exertion, NO
prior emotional trauma that one would suspect might have brought it on.
I was sitting all snugly & warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat
in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and
actually thinking, 'A-A-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my
soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped up.

A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you've
been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with
a dash of water, and that hurried bite seems to feel like you've
swallowed a golf ball going down the esophagus in slow motion and it is
most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast
and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of
water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial
sensation---the only trouble was
that I hadn't taken a bite of anything since about 5:00 p.m.

After it seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little
squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my SPINE
(hind-sight, it was probably my aorta spasms), gaining speed as they
continued racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one
presses rhythmically when administering CPR).

This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out
into both jaws. 'AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening
-- we all have read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of
the signals of an MI happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat,
Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack!

I lowered the foot rest dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a
step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself, If this is a
heart attack, I shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone
is or anywhere else ... but, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will
know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to
get up in a moment.

I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the
next room and dialed the Paramedics ... I told her I thought I was
having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum
and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just
stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to un-bolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in.
I unlocked the door and then laid down on the floor as instructed and
lost consciousness, as I don't remember the medics coming in, their
examination, lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their
ambulance, or hearing the call they made to St. Jude ER on the way, but
I did briefly awaken when we arrived and saw that the radiologist was
already there in his surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my
stretcher out of the ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions
(probably something like 'Have you taken any medications?') but I
couldn't make my mind interpret what he was saying, or form an answer,
and nodded off again, not waking up until the Cardiologist and partner
had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery
into the aorta and into my
heart where they installed 2 side by side stints to hold open my right
coronary artery.
'I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have
taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the paramedics, but
actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire
station and St. Jude are only minutes away from my home, and my
Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going on
restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival and
the procedure) and installing the stints.
'Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I
want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I learned
first hand.'
1. Be aware that something very different is happening in your body not
the usual men's symptoms but inexplicable things happening (until my
sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many more women
than men die of their first (and last) MI because they didn't know they
were having one and commonly mistake it as indigestion, take some
Mallox or other a
nti-heartburn preparation and go to bed, hoping
they'll feel better in the morning when they
wake up ... which doesn't happen. My female friends, your symptoms
might not be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics
unpleasantly happening that you've not felt before.
It is better to have a 'false alarm' visitation than to risk your life
guessing what it might be!
2. Note that I said 'Call the Paramedics.' And if you can take an
aspirin. Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!
Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER - you are a hazard to others on
the road.
Do NOT have your panicked husband who will be speeding and looking
anxiously at what's happening with you instead of the road.
Do NOT call your doctor -- he doesn't know where you live and if it's
at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime, his
assistants (or answering service) will tell you to call the Paramedics.
He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved!
The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP. Your Dr. will
be notified later.
3. Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a normal
cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a
cholesterol elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it's
unbelievably high and/or accompanied by high blood pressure). MIs are
usually caused by long-term stress and inflammation in the
body, which dumps all
sorts of deadly hormones into your system to
sludge things up in there.
Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep.
Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we
could survive.

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